Most of us know that semen—the ejaculate spurted by men during sexual encounters—is made up of a cocktail of ingredients that unite a cell and an egg. Sometimes it’s swallowed or spit out. Other times it just ends up in a tissue. But did you know that the texture and consistency of your spunk—whether it’s clumpy or watery—can actually tell you a lot about your health? Whether it comes out like a faucet or has a little bit of chew to it, knowing the difference between healthy semen and its other variations can calm worries, give you insight into your overall health and let you know when it’s time to seek medical attention.

Why does semen texture vary? 

As it turns out, sperm aren’t the determined “swimmers” we all think they are. Without the fluid of semen, sperm would just swim in circles until oblivion. Semen is the actual mode of transportation that takes the sperm to the egg. Semen is made up of water, sugar, protein, vitamin C, zinc and prostaglandins.

Semen consistency varies from person to person. There are many outside factors that can affect the semen color, smell, taste, and texture. The taste and texture of your semen, for the most part, largely depends on: 

  1. Your diet
  2. Medication you may use
  3. How often you consume alcoholic beverages
  4. Tobacco
  5. Level of physical activity
  6. Daily intake of water

Varying textures are actually quite natural, especially if they occur infrequently.

When you know it’s healthy

Don’t be afraid of a little tint. Robust semen typically has:

  1. Yellow, grayish color or a white translucent semen color
  2. Accompanied by a bleach- or chlorine-like smell (as it is made of alkaline substances)
  3. Viscous, jelly-like texture that turns water after about 30 minutes

Semen can appear yellow if there is urine in the bladder at the time of ejaculation. The taste of healthy semen is typically described as:

  1. Warm
  2. salty
  3. slightly sweet (Depending on someone’s diet and physical activity)
  4. It can also have a bit of a metallic taste.

And as far as texture goes, clumpy semen is actually quite common, and the consistency may change along with your diet and overall fitness. Congealed wads can frequently appear in hearty semen, so if your partner has to chew a little before they swallow, it may actually be normal. Your jelly-like nut means your swimmers are doing their job (the clumps hold the sperm in place). For that special someone who gets semen like this in their mouth, this may be a bit alarming, but it’s totally healthy.

OK, so what’s unhealthy semen look like?

Blood in semen can be an indicator of an infection such as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), or trauma to the bladder, urethra or scrotum. According to Harvard Health, frequent ejaculation can also be a contributing factor. A persistent reoccurrence of bloody semen can be cause for concern and requires medical attention as soon as possible. Additionally, if it is accompanied by itching, burning or discomfort, get in contact with a medical professional immediately.

Along with some blood, intense yellow or green-colored semen can also be a sign of an infection or STI. While some color variation in semen can be common, yellow semen can be a sign of jaundice, which would typically present other symptoms such as yellowing skin, pain in the abdomen, dark urine or itchiness.

Green-colored semen can be a sign of infection or inflammation in the prostate, while both green or yellow semen can also be a sign of an abundance of vitamins or medications.

Contrary to what you may think, watery semen may actually be more alarming than clumpy semen. If semen has a watery consistency, a person’s sperm count may be too low. Ejaculating too much or too often, and zinc deficiencies can also contribute to watery semen.

What causes clumpy & thick semen?

Some men might see sudden changes in their sperm. If they don’t usually experience clumpy or thick sperm, the texture change could be caused by:

  • Dehydration: It makes sense that if you’re not getting enough fluids then you might have some clumpy sperm since it’s primarily composed of water. 
  • Air exposure: Semen always changes after a male ejaculates and when the sperm is exposed to air. After a couple minutes, you can observe thick sperm that is cooler to watery sperm that's more liquid-like. 
  • Infrequent ejaculation: If a person goes a long period without ejaculating, they might experience thick semen and more semen volume than usual.
  • Hormonal imbalance: Factors like your age, diet, and level of physical activity can impact your hormone level, sperm count, texture, and color. Since semen contains many hormones, an imbalance can result in thickened semen. 
     

How to improve consistency

Ashley Cobb, a sex expert, explained that people “should drink lots of water and eat plenty of fruit, especially pineapple and melons,” to improve their semen. “If there is a noticeable smell or taste to the semen, a visit to the doctor is definitely needed.”

These foods may impact the taste of semen, giving it a musky and bitter smell or taste. These food include: 

  • garlic
  • onions
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • leafy greens
  • meat 

Conversely, these foods can improve the flavor (though that doesn't mean your ejaculate will taste any sweeter):

  • celery cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • pineapple
  • papaya 
  • oranges

 

Knowing what healthy semen looks like is not just about making an assessment of your personal health. It can also help you improve the quality of your sex life. The use of tobacco, alcohol, coffee and other drugs and substances can all impact the taste and consistency. Additionally, the use of tobacco and other drugs can also have an effect on male fertility and stamina in the bedroom. Simple changes, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, taking vitamin C along with a multivitamin and increasing your physical activity outside the bedroom, will have your ejaculate tasting and feeling like the dessert menu. *Chef’s kiss*